After watching the latest reports of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, floods through the Appalachian states, and fires in the west, many homeowners might be wondering what natural or man-made disaster is coming for their own community.
And they are wondering how they can be ready.
One natural consideration is whether to buy a generator for their home.
For most homeowners, the answer is no. Disasters are so rare, and the electric grids in their communities are so safe, that spending money on a generator is like throwing that money away.
But this is not true in every situation. Here’s a quick set of questions to help guide you in determining whether you need a generator.
Is your area prone to disaster?
The first question to explore is whether your home’s area is prone to disaster. Has there been a major event in the past 25 years that knocked out power to the region for an extended period of time? Has there been one in the past 10?
Has there been more than one in the last 5?
Generally, if you can think back more than decade and only name once when your power was out for days, you likely don’t need a generator. You should wait until the next forecast for that same sort of situation, and buy one then, just in case.
Buying it early in anticipation of a once-in-a-decade event increases the risk that it won’t be ready when you need it – it’s better to let the stores bring in a new one when the time is right.
Does your life or livelihood depend on electricity?
If your life depends on continual access to electricity, then the calculation is different for you. If you suffer from a medical condition that requires access to oxygen, then you should have this access at all times and be prepared even for a few hours without electricity. Own and maintain a generator for these occasions.
Does your job require electricity? Most people in their jobs can withstand a weeked, even an unannounced power outage for a few days. And is this related to communication? If the power is out, the phones might be out too, and a generator won’t help.
Are you seriously remote?
People who live in the fringes of civilization, in remote cabins or homes carved out of hillsides, might have a stronger argument for getting a generator.
With fewer power lines running to you, you are more likely to experience an outage. With fewer customers at your end of the line, you are likely to be among the last to get help if there is a major event.
Buy a generator, and keep it in good shape.